Red Archer & Raven Heights Radio

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When Erica asks if it’s been a year at the top of the program I kept thinking it hadn’t been that long, but it’s because we did a Christmas Special last year – which you should totally check out. It’s family friendly and done in the style of an old gumshoe radio drama.The Hound and the Hedgehog Part 1 & Part 2. I adapted a script from a short story William Hardy wrote for me as a present several holidays back. It really had been about a year since we talked Red August, though. I really need to get out to RHR more often!

In this most recent episode Erica asks me some interesting questions and I go on a bit a couple of times trying to find my footing about what I want to say. After the recording I thought, “Damn, I rambled too much.” But after listening to the episode, I felt a lot better because what ends up happening is you can hear that I’m working it out.

The topics range from how I do my Scottish related research, to what I think of Trigger Warnings, and where I get the material for my sexy scenes. Will talks about the editing process and has some other insights as well regarding love going from overwhelmingly passionate to more comfortable.

So, check out the latest episode of Raven Heights Radio – Neon Waxing Philosphical, Episode 178 – Reflecting on Red August, Introducing Red Archer

You can find out all of the places to order my books at www.hlbrooks.com.

 

 

Baltimore Book Festival Confessions 2016 – Part 2

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Last weekend I was a vendor at the Baltimore Book Festival in Maryland. I’m a Maryland resident and not too far from Baltimore, so I thought it would be a good book event to try out.

My most difficult task has not been the hours upon hours of making graphics, layout and design of the book cover, coming up with marketing, keeping up with social media, even writing the books, going to events and so forth. The most difficult part of this has been finding my audience. My book comes off as a YA at first glance. The female protagonist in Red August is sixteen at the beginning of the story. She’s fairly confident, but has her body issues. This isn’t a trope to me. This is a reflection of myself at about 13 years old, so I know there have to be others who can relate to that. The character is extremely hormonal and sexually interested. This is where I think I lose some of the more YA-oriented folks. They are looking for Twilight and I have given them Twilight, but with more adults, strong female characters of varying ages, and erotic scenes. Detailed erotic scenes. There is also the distracted thinking and judgment that comes with the hormones of adolescence as I recall them. Let’s not forget, this is a Paranormal Romance Adventure book, so besides adolescence in general for her hormones, there are other reasons. Reasons. Anyway, my hope was to come across some readers who I could maybe chat with, answers questions, and find the audience who wants my work. The book festival delivered in that way. Had I been in a section that was more dedicated to my genre, I think it would have been an even more successful endeavor. We were a jumble of genres and even had a beauty pageant table in our tent, for some reason.

When you enter the Tablers Tent you sign in and select your table. It’s a long bowling-alley style series of tents with tables along each side. I mention ways I felt this wasn’t the best set-up and could be improved in the other post. Just a little helpful feedback, not trying to be whiny about it. Anyway, we selected a table about middle of the alley. We were lucky enough to be right at a vent so we could enter and exit behind our table and weren’t literally walled in, being forced to use the exits at either end of the alley. Here you can see Will eating a quick lunch outside of our vent and in front of the Visitor’s Center.

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I want to just say that I really LOVED being so close to the Visitor’s Center, so I hope that it’s in the same spot next year.

Nearing the end of the day I really needed to get up and stretch, so I went for a quick walk to check out the event. It was quite a large event with booths surrounding the harbor. I also took a swing by the Maryland Romance Writers tent to listen to some of the panel talk about writing Romances. At the moment I was there the discussion was about researching history, how difficult it is to make sure you get everything correct with non-fictional characters, and what terrible things a writer’s browser might give up if ever forensically investigated by the FBI. All true things. I could relate to these ladies for sure. It would have been nice if their tent was closer to ours, but I was pretty excited to see the Red Emma’s tent right outside of ours. I would have liked to have spent part of the day in there!

The event was heavily attended, a real plus. It was nice weather, also a big plus. There were plenty of food and book vendors. Plenty of portable toilets. And the Tablers Tent looked looked as though all of the vendor tables were full. There were volunteers that were polite, helpful, and checked on us regularly and brought us water. They could relieve us at our table for a short while if need be. A long list of events and activities were posted throughout the event in the form of large signs. A nice big glossy map to give to attendees. A pretty good event rating overall in my opinion. I hope next year they try to attract book bloggers/vloggers and reviewers.

During the event we were seated next to Rosa Pryor-Trusty and her husband Shorty – who were just wonderful to talk to. It was nice to have some really funny, smart companions to chat with during the slower moments.

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This is a photo of Rosa and me after a long day. We still look like we could take on the world, don’t we? LOOK OUT WORLD!

I met a couple of other authors at the event as well, though I wish I’d had time to meet all of the other writers that were in my genre. Natasha Lane came down and stopped by my table and we talked shop – though I didn’t realize she was a fellow writer at the beginning of the conversation. I’m hoping that if I collect enough cards of nearby women authors we can have the occasional salon. One thing that has struck me about the other women authors I’ve met, is how important the writing is to them. How it’s something they have to do, like any art you are driven to make. There is also an edge of enthusiasm, that despite the odds being against us being able to make a living this way, that is inspiring.  Women supporting women achieving their dreams. We are stronger together.

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It was a long day, and I am grateful to have had Will’s help. I couldn’t do this stuff without him.

I Fell in Love (just a little) -Writer Blues

I fell in love with you a little when I read it. Pixels or paper, it wouldn’t have mattered. Though  there is something to be said for the slip smooth, the crinkle, of paper. But the pixels reach me so much faster, a bullet hitting its mark.

Slide your glossy razor fingernail down my breastbone, peel back a layer. And another.

Focus your laser insight into my eyes. Blind me with your gifts. I won’t have to see my own overly-dramatic adolescent ramblings.

You can never make a great writer out of a good writer, a great writer once said. Mr. King, what a wound. Not so wide as a church door, but ’tis enough, ’twill serve.

So I will wash my mouth out with adverbs. I will slice away planks of purple prose and drop them into the pot with what I thought were wild parsnips. On high. Until boiling. Drink. Sleep.

Incoherent. Disjointed. What is this, anyway? It doesn’t make sense. It does, too. A flashing sign overhead, “EDIT ME.” Spellcheck. Wait, I need to look up “lie” and “lay” again. It’s the mechanics of cameras all over again.

I’m tired, but inspired. And it starts over every. single. day.

You don’t care. And I’m fine with it. I will keep working at going from competent to good while you spill great all over the place. I’ll wipe it up. I’ll like it. And I’m not even mad about it.

Actually, you do care. And that’s what makes it all worth something.

Abstract works better in acrylics. Eyes roll. “Wow, she’s trying way too hard.”

“Fishing.”

“Yeah.”

One foot in front of the other. Writing mix on the playlist. Focus. Steady as she goes. O CAPTAIN! my captain!

Be grateful it’s out there, all of that beauty. Stop worrying. Don’t show any lack of confidence, it’s deadly you know.

Is it?

Well, if that were true, I’d have died at twelve.

“Who are you talking to?”

“Does it matter?”

I can if I say I can. From competent to good is better than “never tried.”

 

 

 

 

Red Archer 2016

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My friend Tracy has been to London and Edinburgh – so she invited me over to pick her brain about that as research for the second book in the Red August series – Red Archer.

She had a wonderful little journal from her trip to Britain when she was a teen, so that was perfect – getting an American teen girl’s impressions of parts of Europe, and in the same era that my book series is set in!  How about THAT!?  PLUS – I got to hang with my pal Tracy and she made me food and we had wine.

We don’t get to see each other face-to-face too often, so we had lots of catching up to do.  We talked about travel and men and love and hurt.  We talked about sex and lost loves and what lessons we’ve learned here and there.  We also talked about things like how switches on the walls in the UK work and what time it gets dusky.

I took lots of notes.  But we didn’t make it all the way through her journal, so I’m hoping to head back down there for another bout of research in the coming months.

OH!  I almost forgot.  She also made some freaking DELICIOUS spiced cake cupcakes.  They were SO GOOD I could have eaten one every day for breakfast for a week.  Do I have amazing friends or what?

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Look how cute these cupcakes are – and her arm was hurty too!  ❤ ❤ ❤

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Writing in a Bubble

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You can’t write in a bubble.  You’re influenced by everything you’ve been exposed to.  Good, bad, whatever.

I think it’s important to keep that in perspective when you are feeling a bit like you can’t offer up a fresh voice in stories.  It’s a hurdle I had to overcome.  I had a sense that I couldn’t add anything to the conversation.  I had a sense that even though I wanted to reach out and touch people with a story about different kinds of love and struggles, I didn’t know if I had anything special to add.

In the end I decided to just sit down and write the story.  To write down the show unraveling inside of my head.  To see where it takes me.

Now that I have finished the first book – Red August – I am thrilled that book two – Red Archer – is already full of life in my mind.  It’s crackling with energy and concepts that are exciting to me and I can’t wait to write them all down.  My sweetheart has been helping me with ideas about love and bonding and even obsessive feelings and where they come from and how to work with them.

Right now I am hip deep in props and set decorating for an amazing play written by my friend Audrey.  My sweetheart is in the play, too.  So we’ve been all about the play these past couple of months and “hell week” is next week, so it’s going to get busier before it lets up.  But come November, once a brilliant run of Maytag Virgin is over, I can settle back into working on book two.

I’m always looking for people who have insight on the Celtic/Scottish and Irish aspects of the story as well – if you have some thoughts, please send them along (email below).  I’m interested in traditions related to weddings, marriage, birthdays, holidays, things lovers might say to each other and other cultural things that would be hard for me to know about without living there.  I always want to research well and be respectful.

****REVIEWERS***

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If you would like to review Red August (ebook only at this time) please contact me at hlbrookswrites(at)yahoo(dot)com.  See my Media Kit page for images and synopsis.  Please note, the book contains sexual material.

Messy Desk, Messy Heart, Good Workflow

Yesterday’s Mood:  “I can do a really good impression of a fettuccine noodle, I bet somebody’s gotta want that.”  ~Dharma (see 5:36 in the video)

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My desk has two glasses, one mug, an empty dried plums box and a bowl with dried up soy milk in it.  I know the spoon is stuck to the bottom, without even touching it.

The more I dig into my work, whether it’s writing or artwork, photo editing – whatever – the messier my desk gets, until I am pushing things this way and that just to see my side monitor.  The mess on my desk means progress in my work, and I’ve tried to make friends with that idea.

I’m busy doing a lot of things right now, including dealing with some rejection.  Book two (Red Archer in the Red August series) started out so nicely yesterday, about 700 words in just a few hours, and that felt nice.  Then the rejection came, totally unrelated to my books and writing, but still.  I cried a bit, because no matter how confident you are, rejection stings.  When you get rejected, especially for something you feel vulnerable about, you feel like all of your tender spots have been poked with a stick.

Does the crying help?  No.  Well…maybe.  I don’t know.  I cried and got comforted and then I felt better.  So, maybe it helps to cry and let it out.

Then I sent my sister a mopey text.  She sent me back “don’t be silly” stuff and told me that it had been the first day of school for my nephews.  I posted an uncharacteristically mopey status on social media.  Normally I’m all zen and cheer or feminist and angry.  I thought about Dharma and her lost yoga class.  I think my feelings would be easier to cope with if I didn’t feel like I don’t pull my weight around here.  It’s a matter of pride.  After all, I supported myself before I ever got involved with a man.  Oh – my life.  It’s taken some unexpected turns. I really wouldn’t change most of it, though.

I’m fortunate to have a sweetheart, sidekick and partner in all things arty to keep me grounded.  I have people who send me nice notes when my work has touched them in some way.  It can really get you through a low spot.

A friend said to me today that she was so surprised when I published a book.  That she had no idea.  And I explained that I didn’t talk about it much because I wasn’t sure I could do it.  But I did it, and that’s something.  And now I am on the second book and some people are waiting for it.  They really want to read it.  And that’s amazing.

This messy heart has a lot of stories to tell.  If I had to go through some of the shit I went through in life, I might as well find a way to make something beautiful of it.  If I can’t make something beautiful, then I want to find a way to connect.  That matters to me.

I’m all patched up today.  Rejection stings are all tended to.  Messy desk is messier – which is good.  It means I’m working and getting somewhere.  I guess it’s the same way for my heart.

Theatre and Relationships Podcast

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I was a guest on Raven Heights Radio again – YAY – and this time my sweetheart William C. Hardy was with me, too. Will answers questions like “How many accents can you do?”  And I mostly say how much I love people and giggle.

He talked about theatre and the amazingly creative people we have worked with and our friends.  We also talked about the night Will and I met, which involved giggling during the discussion (some perhaps owed to the wine).  Also – mush.  There is some romantic mush.